Follow the Money
November 21, 1978 — The Daily Iowan
A group of University of Iowa student activists representing the Iranian People’s Support Committee penned this letter to the school newspaper The Daily Iowan in the fall of 1978.
Tuesday, November 21, 1978
Iran: Where does the money go?
To the Editor:
Recent events in Iran have begun to claim the attention of many people in this country. For example, the DI has run news reports on Iran every day for the past three weeks, and one cannot watch the television news and escape hearing of new developments. Yet there are serious inadequacies in the accounts we have been presented by the American news media.
Our press invariably characterizes the uprisings as the reaction of “Moslem extremists” against the shah’s attempts to democratize and modernize Iranian society. No one seems to have critically examined the precise meaning that the words “democracy” and “modernization” have for the people living under the shah’s rule.
Supposedly, Iran’s large profits from the sale of oil and other important commodities on the world market are invested by the government for the improvement of the people’s welfare in such areas as education, public health and land reform. In reality, however, illiteracy in Iran (70 per cent in 1976, according to the U.S. Catholic Conference Booklet) is growing every year, and the teaching force decreases annually at a rate greater than the population increases (4 per cent a year) due to an almost total lack of funding. One third of all children die before they are five years old and there is no national health program of any kind. Peasants are being forced off the land en masse to live in underground caves or holes at the edges of large cities without any means of livelihood.
Where, then, does this money go? According to Newsweek, the Shah spends $20 billion a year on military hardware. This is out of a yearly oil revenue of $23.6 billion. This fact, coupled with the extraordinarily repressive measures which are everyday policy (and which have prompted an Amnesty International Commission to call the shah’s human rights record “the worst in the world”), is more than enough explanation for why, on the weekend before last, more than one third of Iran’s population marched through the streets chanting “Down with the shah.” According to the French newspaper Le Monde, thousands (not tens or dozens, as the American press tells us) of unarmed people were shot to death.
It is now fair to ask why Americans ought to be concerned with a situation which appears to be an internal political problem of a country halfway around the world. To be brief, we are the direct cause of the appalling events in Iran. The CIA put the shah in power after overthrowing a democratically elected leader in 1953 (See the New York Times, May, 1961, and the Saturday Evening Post, among other sources, for confirmation of this fact). More than 50 per cent of all U.S. military arms sales go to Iran — a staggering amount when one realizes that the U.S. is far and away the largest seller of arms to the world. Thousands of American military personnel are in Iran training the Iranian armed forces as well as operating American-made equipment.
These facts — in addition to the opinions voiced by such newspeople as [ABC Evening News anchor] Barbara Walters (who, in a television editorial, strongly urged “more direct” U.S. support for the shah’s regime), and the fact that President Carter has gone out of his way to express his support for the shah’s newly formed military government — make it inevitable that U.S. troops will become heavily involved in a full-scale war against the people of Iran unless the American public acts immediately to oppose our intervention.
A group of Americans in Iowa City has formed an Iranian People’s Support Committee to help make the public aware of the extent and nature of American involvement in Iran. Those interested in the group will find notice of our meetings on campus bulletin boards and the “Postscripts” section of the DI.
Some of us will be joining Iranian students from around the state in a demonstration that begins at 11 today at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.
ORIGINAL SIN: The 1953 Coup in Iran Clarified | by Arash Norouzi
Iran — U.S. aids moral bankruptcy — Letter to The Daily Iowan, January 25, 1977
Carter ‘hopes’ shah survives — United Press International, December 8, 1978
Iranians Should Worry — The Chicago Sun-Times, February 21, 1977
MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”